This return to the UK after a few years spent largely based in California coincided with a decision to finally give in to pestering from Penguin that he put the story of his life into print. But Burgesswasn't content only to look into the past - he wanted to revitalise his present, and look to the future. "I thought when I'm doing a book I have to do a record at the same time," he explains, "It felt like I had to do that time to keep moving forward." Yet the tale of Oh No I Love You begins in the past, probably about two thirds away through the narrative of Telling Stories, when Burgess carried Kurt Wagner's guitar to his van after a year 2000 Lambchop gig in Manchester. "As I've said to many people I've enthused about along the way, 'hey we should write something together'. He said 'sure, Tim, you write the music and I'll write the words'." The idea lay dormant for a decade until the downtime after the last Charlatans tour, as Burgess was penning Telling Stories. "I thought maybe I should just go to Nashville and hook up with Kurt, no strings attached at all, and see what happens, maybe we can write a song together," he says. "I went to stay in a place called the Hotel Indigo, he lived a couple of miles away round the corner, we met up for coffee every morning and talked. I went back to my hotel room, wrote a song, and emailed it to him. We'd meet the next day, or he'd send some words. He said that he wanted to be my mirror. I found that very interesting."
Back in the UK, Burgess thrashed out these ideas for songs into demos, and sent them back to Nashville, where Mark Evers put together "a dream band" featuring Chris Scruggs (whose grandfather Earl Scruggs wrote the Beverley Hillbillies theme), Carl Broemel of My Morning Jacket, members of Lambchop and 70-year-old saxophonist Denis Solee. The recording process was very much of the Old School. "It was very regimented," Burgess explains. "They were paid by the half day, and we did the backing tracks to the whole album in two and a half days. They learned the songs. It was very Nashville, and I found that very alien but also very 'oh my God, this is me stepped into a different world that I'd never seen before, completely out of my comfort zone.' I had great admiration for them." But Oh No I Love You is no Nashville pastiche, in thrall the country and western tradition. Influenced by Arthur Russell, Bill Callahan and Bob Dylan as much as Lambchop and the local greats, it also features electronic input from Gabe Gurnsey, drummer with London avant-techno group Factory Floor. It's still very Tim Burgess, the sum total, like that autobiography, of his life and musical loves. As he puts it, "I wasn't trying to make a country record, though I knew there would be elements of that, and I wasn't trying to make an electronic record either. I wanted to make a record that was me, with all the information that I had at my age on my shoulders and in my head. It's is very much a Manchester and Nashville album," Burgess says. "It's a venn diagram, the two cells with a little in the middle where we met. I tried to speak Nashville in a Manchester accent. If it were a film it'd be a North-Western."
So the Tim Burgess of now, peering back to the 1980s and the Tim Burgess who was about to become an international pop star with the Charlatans, what would you think about what has come between? "I still think I'm a punk," he says emphatically. "In the beginning of the book, it starts with me going on holiday with my mum and dad, my dad giving me ten quid or something for my holiday money. I didn't spend any of it, I kept scrounging, and then when I got home I cycled to the local record shop and bought the Great Rock & Roll Swindle. "I was listening to the Great Rock & Roll Swindle, the same copy, as I was writing my book. I was reflecting saying 'Tim, what has changed?' Well I'm still a punk, I'm now in love, which is a great feeling, and I'm listening to the Great Rock & Roll Swindle. What's different? I'm friends with Steve Jones. He drew a cock on the sleeve next to his autograph. But apart from that, nothing! I've been through all this shit, I've been through great stuff, I've been through drugs, death of a friend, ups and downs, but the record is still there. And then My Way came on, and I thought, that's the end of the book. Or not the end…"
TELLING STORIES was published by Penguin on April 26th
OH NO I LOVE YOU is released on October 1st